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Jets have something special to show Bills

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Star-Ledger Staff

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- There isn't much that can get Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff to change his high-energy approach. In fact, his players don't think he'll ever calm down. And they don't want him to.

"We could be playing a high school team on special teams. He's going to be just as intense as if we were playing the Super Bowl champs," linebacker Brad Kassell said. "He's the same all the time. He's out there to win every play."

Westhoff's outlook might not change from week to week, but his players see tomorrow's matchup in Orchard Park against the Bills as a test of how good their unit is. While the Jets once had the premier unit in 2001 and 2002 under Westhoff, the Bills have had the best special teams the past two seasons and continue to impress again this year. The Jets would like to regain that title and hope to show it this weekend by shutting down the Bills.

"We think of ourselves as (the best)," linebacker Matt Chatham said. "But you can't just call yourself that. You have to go out and do it. These are those weeks where you really take advantage and try to move up the rankings in the NFL."

"I think it's a good measuring stick of where you are as a special teams unit," Kassell said. "They're perennially one of the better teams in the NFL, so you want to go against the best to see how good you are."

To have a good showing, the Jets must hold down two of the NFL's top kick returners. Last season Terrence McGee led the NFL, averaging 31 yards per kickoff return, and he currently ranks sixth (26.4). Roscoe Parrish set career highs in punt returns (five for 72 yards) last week against the Dolphins.

If they're able to stop the Bills from getting good field position, the Jets might have a difficult time getting good field position of their own. Bills punter Brian Moorman leads the league with six punts inside the 20. He placed five inside the 20 and three inside the 10 in Miami. Oh, and Bills kicker Rian Lindell has hit nine straight field goals, including a 53-yarder in week one against the Patriots.

"You got a guy with talent like (McGee or Parrish), he may go anywhere. So it makes it tough to pinpoint where he's going to go," Kassell said. "And then a great punter can almost take your punt-return game down to zero. If you don't pressure him and you don't hold up the flyers, he's going to be forcing fair catches every time. You take care of those two things and you may have a chance."

Added Chatham: "There may be only one or two balls that you get a chance to return and you can't just have an average return."

Ryan Myers, another special-teamer, isn't as focused on Moorman. The return game of the Bills is what concerns him. If the Jets miss tackles, McGee or Parrish could go all the way.

"We need to swarm to the ball, especially on the return with who they have back there and how dangerous they are," Myers said. "We're not catching a guy running down the sidelines. We have to make the tackles when they come to us and have to have a good tackling effort out of the whole team."

Jets coach Eric Mangini praised Bills assistant head coach/special teams coach Bobby April, but is happy with his own assistant. He doesn't pay attention to where the Bills or Jets ranked before his arrival.

"I think Mike does a really good job," Mangini said. "It's not what this team has done in the past or any team has done in the past. It's what we're going to do right now."

Notes: Jets RB Derrick Blaylock returned to practice yesterday with a gigantic smile after taking Thursday off to be with his wife for the birth of their fourth child, a baby boy, Tori, who weighed in at 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and was 20 inches. ... Bills linebacker Takeo Spikes (hamstring) did not practice again yesterday and will be a game-time decision....

With the NFL monitoring the Seahawks to see if they use artificially enhanced crowd noise, Mangini was asked why he has music blaring daily at practices. "Every day we have plenty of noise. Just depends on your taste in music. (Offensive line coach) Tony Wise think it's all noise. He'd like a little more (Frank) Sinatra. It's really just designed to force communication and to get the communication whether it's hand signals, or it's guys walking up and back to each other, confirming the communication."...

Mangini said his weekly meetings on Thursdays with his captains have been helpful. They're designed for him to get feedback. And if they suggest shortening practice, "sometimes we have to agree to disagree," Mangini said with a smile. "That's an important part of the process."

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COLLEGE REUNION: Former Miami Hurricane teammates Jonathan Vilma and Willis McGahee of the Bills will resume their personal rivalry tomorrow in Buffalo.

September 23, 2006 -- Jonathan Vilma is the heart of the Jets' defense, Willis McGahee is the soul of Buffalo's offense. They won a national title together at Miami, and still work out back home in the offseason, talking trash about whoever won their regular-season tilts. Those bragging rights are on the line in tomorrow's game.

"Whoever wins the game and had a better game gets to talk. There's only so much talking you can do when you lose," Vilma said. "There's always going to be something said. Willis likes to talk trash. I like to talk trash. So it just makes the game that much more fun, that much more exciting."

The two former Hurricanes will match up tomorrow at Ralph Wilson Stadium with each team 1-1. The Jets have lost eight of their last 11 meetings in Buffalo.

It will be the fifth time they've clashed in the NFL, and after watching McGahee run all over them last year, stopping the Bills back will be Gang Green's focus.

"It's always a battle with that guy. It's something we always do. We go at it regardless of where we are. I look forward to playing against him," said McGahee, who gashed the Jets for 256 yards on 51 carries last year.

It wasn't that long ago - the Jan. 2003 Fiesta Bowl to be exact - that Vilma watched his friend writhing in agony after tearing up his knee in Miami's double-OT loss to Ohio State in the national championship game.

The injury was particularly gruesome, but Vilma said he knew his friend would get back to his dominating old form. He worked too hard not to.

"Willis is a very tough character, so there wasn't any doubt Willis was going to come back," Vilma said. "It did look bad, and it was a serious injury, but we knew how tough he was; we knew he was coming back.

"[it wasn't a surprise] for the guys that had played with him and practiced against him. We saw him in the weight room, in the training room, working to get better. Being the great physical talent he is, it wasn't an issue."

Apparently not. He's coming off a 91-yard effort in Miami, carrying the Bills to a 16-6 win despite just 66 passing yards.

Tomorrow he'll face a Jetsdefense still adjusting from the 4-3 to a 3-4. The move caused concern because Vilma is just 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, and now is responsible more for gap-control than pursuit. But he has managed to make a team-high 19 tackles and learn a system that demands versatility.

"He's always hungry: Hungry to figure out a better way to play the technique, to learn exactly what everybody's doing, trying to improve his and the team's performance," said Eric Mangini. "When you marry that hunger with the natural ability he has, his work ethic, he keeps making strides."


Laveranues Coles (calf) is listed as questionable, and didn't practice fully yesterday. But the wideout - who leads the NFL with 253 receiving yards - seems all but certain he'll play, praised by Mangini as a model of toughness.

"I'm OK. I hope I'll be able to [play]. The only thing that'll change that is if coach says something. Other than that, I'll be there. I'm traveling. I got my bags packed. It looks pretty good from me.

Coles, who played through a hurt toe the last two years. "Y'all draw your own conclusions. What do y'all think?"

Running back Derrick Blaylock returned to practice after his wife, Kristen, gave birth to their fourth child, an 8 lb., 8 ounce boy named Tori.

Cornerback David Barrett (hip), wide receiver Tim Dwight (thigh) and offensive lineman Pete Kendall (thigh) all missed practice and are questionable, with OL Trey Teague (ankle) doubtful.

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Vilma, McGahee fight for 'Cane reign



Several former stars at the football factory known in Miami as "the U" work out together in the offseason. When they do, Willis McGahee rarely forgets to take advantage of the bragging rights he owns over his close friend, Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

"Yeah, just a little bit," Vilma said.

Since 1970, only one running back has averaged more rushing yards (minimum four games) against the Jets than McGahee's 107-yard average over four appearances for the Bills, according to STATS, Inc. That would be Curtis Martin, who owned the Jets for a 122.8-yard clip over three seasons in New England before Gang Green acquired him in 1998.

As if Vilma didn't have enough to worry about in his ongoing adjustment to inside linebacker in the Jets' transition to a 3-4 base defense. Tomorrow he will see plenty - and hear plenty - from McGahee, who has emerged as one of the NFL's most versatile backs three years after suffering a career-threatening knee injury in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl while both were with the Hurricanes.

"Willis is a very tough guy and tough individual. There wasn't any doubt he was going to come back from the injury," Vilma said before practice yesterday at Hofstra. "It did look bad and it was serious, but we knew how tough he was and that he would come back. We're all happy for him.

"But whoever wins the game, and whoever had a better game, gets to talk, basically. There's only so much talking you can do when you lose. ... There's always going to be something said. Willis likes to talk trash and I like to talk trash. It just makes the game that much more fun and exciting."

The improved Bills (1-1) have become one of the more fun teams to watch, with a sack-happy defense and a special-teams unit that has been lauded as among the NFL's most dangerous. McGahee has rushed for 161 yards in the two games (seventh in the AFC), but he's burned the Jets for three straight 100-yard performances, with Buffalo taking two of the last three meetings.

"They took him there with the injury in the first round, and there was a time there was some question on that, but he's really turned into an outstanding player," Jets coach Eric Mangini said of McGahee. "He seems to be getting better and better each year and every time we face him. It'll be a good challenge for us."

At the heart of that challenge will be Vilma, who registered only seven tackles last week against New England after leading the Jets with 169 last season. In the 3-4 scheme, Vilma draws more blocks from interior linemen than he did as a middle linebacker in the 4-3. He also isn't able to roam as freely from side to side, which seems to be a waste of his natural speed.

"It's not going to take a training camp and two games to say, 'Okay, I got it down 100%.' I'm still working at it and getting better at it," Vilma said. "But it's not frustrating at all, just another challenge. If I can play well at it, I'll be able to say I can play 4-3, 3-4, any defense you put me in. You just have to play within the scheme."

COUNT ME IN: WR Laveranues Coles (left calf) officially remains questionable, but expect him to play tomorrow. "I've got my bags packed, so that looks pretty good to me," he said. "I'm going (to Buffalo), so what do you think?" ... RB Derrick Blaylock returned to practice after his wife, Kristen, gave birth at 8:42 p.m. Thursday to the couple's fourth child, an 8-pound, 8-ounce boy. "It's good to be back here with the fellas and focus on the task at hand," said Blaylock, who's been splitting time with Kevan Barlow (25 carries apiece through two games). "You just have to be prepared, everybody has to be prepared, and be mentally and physically ready to go whenever you're called upon."

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Friendly combatants

Vilma enjoys playing his friend McGahee, and for bragging rights


Newsday Staff Writer

September 23, 2006

Their friendship began at the University of Miami. They remain close even as they ply their trade in the NFL for rival teams in the same division on opposite sides of the football.

Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma and Bills running back Willis McGahee work out together in Florida during the off-season and challenge each other in video games. So you know they're looking forward to meeting each other Sunday in Buffalo, even if that meeting results in numerous clashes of helmets and pads.

"There are going to be situations where either I'm chasing him or he arrives in the hole," Vilma said Friday. "It just depends on how their offense plays to our defense."

Given that McGahee is Buffalo's leading rusher with 161 yards after two games and Vilma is the Jets' leading tackler with 19, 12 of them solo, collisions are inevitable. So is conversation.

"There's always going to be something said," Vilma said with a knowing smile. "Willis likes to trash-talk. I like to trash-talk. It just makes the game that much more fun, that much more exciting."

The trash-talking continues after the season and into those Florida summers. "Whoever wins gets to talk. Or whoever had the better game," Vilma said. "But there's not much you can say when you lose."

Vilma and McGahee faced each other four times in the previous two seasons, splitting the games and thus the bragging rights. McGahee, however, has exceeded 100 yards three times.

Count Vilma among those who fully believed McGahee would fully recover from a serious knee injury suffered in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl and become a 1,000-yard rusher in the NFL. The injury was so bad that many draft analysts scoffed at the Bills for using a late first-round pick on McGahee.

"There was never any doubt that Willis was going to come back," said Vilma, a three-year teammate of McGahee's at Miami. "It did look bad and it was a serious injury, but we knew how tough he was. We saw him in the weight room. We saw him in the training room. He's a tough character, and being the great physical talent that he is, there wasn't any doubt he'd come back as good as he did."

Jets coach Eric Mangini, who had to game-plan for McGahee twice a year as a coach for the Patriots, acknowledged that "there were some questions" after Buffalo drafted him in the first round in 2003. "But he's done a great job," Mangini said. "He's turned into an outstanding player. He seems to get better each time you face him."

Vilma just hopes McGahee doesn't get more talkative.

Notes & quotes: WR Laveranues Coles (left calf) practiced but still is listed as questionable. However, when reporters asked Coles about his chances of playing Sunday, he said: "I've got my bags packed. What do you think?" ... RB Derrick Blaylock's wife, Kristen, gave birth to a son, Tori, the couple's fourth child, at 8:46 p.m. Thursday. Blaylock took Thursday off but practiced Friday.


Jets at Buffalo

1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2

Radio: WEPN (1050), WABC (770), WRCN (103.9)

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Jets say offensive line will do fine

Saturday, September 23, 2006



HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The Jets have an offensive line that still is shifting personnel around. The Bills had seven sacks in their last game.

From a Jets' perspective, that's not a very good combination.

But the Jets (1-1) believe they are making progress with their offensive front as they prepare to visit the Buffalo Bills (1-1) on Sunday.

"I'm encouraged with the fact that guys want to put in the time," rookie center Nick Mangold said, "and want to put in the effort into executing."

As for the personnel changes, he said: "We're all in the meeting rooms. We've all been practicing together. It's just one of those things. As an offensive lineman you know that you've just got to work with whoever's in there."

The Jets expected that 11th-year veteran Pete Kendall would anchor the line from his left guard spot. However, he hasn't played since injuring his left hamstring in the second quarter of the opening-day win over Tennessee.

"During training camp, when we had so many people in different spots," coach Eric Mangini said, "it's really preparation for things like this, where you may have one guy in one spot through the whole preseason, and then the first play of the game he's out and now things change.

"That's why during camp I wanted to mix as many different people as possible into those spots," Mangini added, "to get the communication as fluid as we could."

"The more reps that you get as one unit, the better it is," said Norm Katnik, who started in place of Kendall against New England. "That's just the way O-line play goes. We're starting to click out there."

The Jets need to, because the Bills brought plenty of heat in South Florida, registering seven sacks in their 16-6 win over Miami. Backup left defensive end Ryan Denney had three of those sacks, and he likely will go against right tackle Anthony Clement, who allowed two sacks against New England. Buffalo also blitzed often against Miami, as linebacker Angelo Crowell and free safety Ko Simpson each recorded a sack.

"We're going to have to try to match their speed because they have a lot of speed on defense," Katnik said.

Adrian Jones, normally a tackle, shared time with Katnik at left guard against the Patriots, and the arrangement could be the same Sunday.

Jones, who hadn't played guard since he was a high school freshman, said the biggest difference in playing there is "dealing with things more quickly and in a smaller area. I'm slowly getting used to it. It's not too big a transition. You've just naturally got to speed stuff up. It's not a problem. I feel comfortable there."

BRIEFS: New England linebacker Junior Seau was fined $7,500 by the league for his hit on Chad Pennington, in which he went after Pennington's knees. Seau was called for roughing the passer on the play, which resulted in a 71-yard scoring pass to Jerricho Cotchery.

Wide receiver Laveranues Coles (calf) again practiced on a limited basis, and is listed as questionable. When asked if he would play Sunday, he said, "I'm traveling. I got my bags packed." Because players aren't supposed to talk about their injuries, he also told reporters to "draw your own conclusions" about whether he would play. Given his toughness, he almost assuredly will. ... Running back Derrick Blaylock returned to practice after missing Thursday's workout to be with his wife, Kristen, who gave birth to the couple's fourth child, a boy. Blaylock said his new son's name is Tori.

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Jets-Bills Preview

Sep 22, 2006

Off to the best statistical start of his career, Chad Pennington looks to continue his strong play Sunday when the New York Jets visit the AFC East rival Buffalo Bills.

Pennington, who underwent offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder for the second straight year, was not promised anything by first-year coach Eric Mangini - who drafted a quarterback and acquired another via trade - heading into training camp. But after winning the starting job with relative ease in the preseason, Pennington has surprised many with his quick start.

The seventh-year pro had just two career 300-yard passing games coming into this season, but has doubled that total this year, carrying an offense that has struggled running the ball by throwing for 625 yards and four touchdowns. He nearly rallied the Jets (1-1) from a 24-point, second-half deficit in last Sunday's 24-17 loss to New England, finishing with 306 yards and two touchdowns.

"Nobody gave up and everybody just kept working hard. That is going to be a sign of this team no matter what happens," said Pennington, who got as far as midfield on a potential game-tying drive in the final minute before being intercepted.

"We are just going to keep the same attitude week in and week out."

Pennington is trying to become the first Jets quarterback to have three consecutive 300-yard passing games since Ken O'Brien accomplished the feat from Nov. 10-24, 1985.

Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery have been an effective receiving tandem for New York, combining for 26 receptions, 439 yards and three scores. Coles has a league-high 253 receiving yards, while Cotchery has 12 catches the first two weeks after totaling just 25 in his first two seasons.

"It's been rewarding, I can say, because you work hard to put yourself in position to do things like this," said Cotchery, who had a 71-yard touchdown catch last Sunday. "It doesn't stop here."

Coles was limited in practice Friday because of an unspecified calf injury, and is questionable for this game.

"I was involved in as much of (Thursday's practice) as they asked me to be," Coles said before Friday's practice. "I'll do the same today. Whatever they ask me to do, I'll do. That's pretty much it. I feel OK. I'm going to do whatever I can to get back. I'm going to leave it at that."

The passing game has emerged at the expense of the running game, which has totaled only 142 yards while averaging a paltry 2.4 yards per carry.

Kevan Barlow may start in this game after Derrick Blaylock was held to seven yards on six carries last week. Barlow, though, didn't fare much better with 42 yards on 14 rushes.

"To be an effective running team is going to take the full group," Mangini said. "It's not a function of purely the back or a function of purely the (offensive) line. It's all of us together, and the coaching staff as well."

The Bills (1-1) hope to have the same type of pass rush against Pennington that proved effective in their 16-6 victory at Miami last Sunday. Ryan Denney recorded a career-high three sacks, leading a defense that recorded five sacks of Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper in its first 17 plays and seven overall.

The performance was all the more impressive as the Bills played without injured veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes and started three rookies: linebacker Keith Ellison and safeties Koy Simpson and Donte Whitner.

"Hey, my hat's off to those guys to be able to step in. It's not easy," Denney said. "I don't care what round you were drafted in. As a rookie in this league, it can be very overwhelming. And these guys have done a great job so far."

While the Jets are trying to improve their running game, the Bills have a proven back in Willis McGahee, who has played well against New York. McGahee - who enters this game with 161 rushing yards - has topped 100 yards in his last three games against the Jets, totaling 275 yards in home victories the last two years.

McGahee has taken some of the pressure off J.P. Losman, who has thrown for only 247 yards and one touchdown in the first two games. Losman, though, has helped the Bills avoid any turnovers, earning the praise of first-year coach Dick Jauron.

"We're pretty young at that quarterback position and he's done a terrific job of not turning it over and running the offense and handling situations and dealing with different fronts and looks," Jauron said.

The home team won both games in this series last year, and the Jets have not won at Buffalo since a 37-31 overtime victory on Sept. 8, 2002.

The Bills lead the all-time series 49-41.

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Jets WR Coles still questionable for Bills game

Associated Press

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Laveranues Coles was limited again in practice Friday because of an unspecified calf injury, and remained questionable for the New York Jets' game at Buffalo on Sunday.

The veteran wide receiver has had his left calf wrapped since Monday, and didn't fully participate in 11-on-11 drills for the third straight day. It's unclear when the injury occurred during the Jets' 24-17 loss to New England last Sunday.

When asked Friday if Coles would play against the Bills, coach Eric Mangini was noncommittal.

"I think Laveranues is a role model of toughness," he said. "Not a lot bothers him, whether it's getting a big hit or getting banged up or any of that stuff. He just pops up and goes. He's outstanding that way."

Coles has been a major factor in New York having the third-ranked passing offense in the NFL. He has 14 catches, tied for second in the AFC, for a league-leading 253 yards. Coles' presence has helped Chad Pennington to the first consecutive 300-yard passing games of his career.

"I was involved in as much of (Thursday's practice) as they asked me to be," Coles said before Friday's practice. "I'll do the same today. Whatever they ask me to do, I'll do. That's pretty much it. I feel OK. I'm going to do whatever I can to get back. I'm going to leave it at that."

Also listed as questionable: guard Pete Kendall, who missed last week's game with a hamstring injury; cornerback David Barrett (hip); and wide receiver Tim Dwight (thigh). Offensive lineman Trey Teague is doubtful as he continues to recover after breaking his ankle in June.

Running back Derrick Blaylock was back with the team Friday after missing Thursday's practice to be with his wife, Kristen, who gave birth to their fourth child, a son, Tori.

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you see what happens?You try and do something for the board and the mods don't even notice-even when you put a request at the end of the thread asking said mod (Guns) to sticky it for you...scroll down SE...(crying) "it friggin HURTS man"

I saw it!!!!

but I dont have mod controls!!!;)

the info you posted is greatly appreciated!!!!thank you!!!

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